Fluorescent proteins (FPs) such as GFP
, YFP or DsRed are powerful tools to visualize cellular components in living cells. Nevertheless, there are circumstances when classical FPs reach their limits. Watching dedicated, spatially limited protein populations of a certain protein of interest is impossible with common FPs, since they are expressed throughout the entire cell. At this point photoactivatable, photoconvertible and photoswitchable fluorescent proteins enter the stage. The members of this fluorescence toolkit can be activated from a non-fluorescent state, they can change their emission spectrum, or they are even able to be reversibly switched "on and off". With the help of these “optical highlighters”, researchers can track a distinct protein population over time by activating respectively converting their fluorescence with a spatially defined light beam of a given wavelength.